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Jackson Pollock’s Mural: The Transitional Moment

Yvonne Szafran, Laura Rivers, Alan Phenix,
Tom Learner, Ellen G. Landau, and Steve Martin

Jackson Pollock's (1912–1956) first large-scale painting, Mural, in many ways represents the birth of Pollock, the legend. The controversial artist’s creation of this painting has been recounted in dozens of books and dramatized in the Oscar-winning film Pollock. Rumors—such as it was painted in one alcohol-fueled night and at first didn’t fit the intended space—abound. But never in doubt was that the creation of the painting was pivotal, not only for Pollock but for the Abstract Expressionists who would follow his radical conception of art —“no limits, just edges.”

Mural, painted in 1943, was Pollock’s first major commission. It was made for the entrance hall of the Manhattan duplex of Peggy Guggenheim, who donated it to the University of Iowa in the 1950s where it stayed until its 2012 arrival for conservation and study at the Getty Center. This book unveils the findings of that examination, providing a more complete picture of Pollock’s process than ever before. It includes an essay by eminent Pollock scholar Ellen G. Landau and an introduction by comedian Steve Martin. It accompanied an exhibition of the painting on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum March 11 through June 1, 2014.

Yvonne Szafran is senior conservator of paintings and Laura Rivers is associate conservator of paintings at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Alan Phenix is a scientist and Tom Learner is head of science at the Getty Conservation Institute. Ellen G. Landau is Andrew W. Mellon Professor Emerita of the Humanities at Case Western Reserve University and has published widely on Abstract Expressionism. Steve Martin is a comedian, actor, musician, writer, and art collector.

“The probing investigation in Muralshed new light on Pollock’s work process and approach to paint, and offers a rare close-up look at an influential work.”
—Publishers Weekly

“Here is a treasure trove of detailed information on Pollock, the mural, the techniques used, and even the paint. . . . A compelling treat for Pollock fans. . . . Well researched and well written.”
—Library Journal

124 pages
10 x 9 inches
78 color and 13 b/w illustrations
ISBN 978-1-60606-323-1

Getty Publications
Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum